The Strib’s Joe Christensen reports that “there are indications the team hopes to have a new deal with [Joe] Mauer by Christmas.” Um, “indications the team hopes to have. . .” So is it unclear whether the team really hopes to have a deal done, or do they definitely hope to have a deal done and there are merely indications that it can be done?
Forgive my pedantry here, but Mauer is the biggest fish in the sea for two or three seasons in either direction, so parsing this language is just as important as reading Ben Bernanke’s body language to see if the market is going to tank or something. I’m going to assume, based on the fact that Christensen reports that talks between Mauer and the Twins are actually happening now, that the “indications” language is mere sloppiness and that the team and the player are truly on track to have a big honking deal in place in the next month.
Which would be all kinds of fabulous. Certainly for Twins fans, who will freak out in all kinds of good ways if he’s locked up. Also for the Twins’ ownership, who will reap the benefits of the freakout in the form of a bunch of new season ticket subscriptions for their new yard and Mauer jerseys flying off the rack with renewed gusto. But also for baseball as a whole which, given all of the competitive balance fretting that has returned to the zeitgeist in the wake of the Yankees winning the World Series, could use a good “hometown boy stays at home” story heading into January, the darkest month of baseball’s offseason.
Indeed, if the Twins sign Mauer now, the only people who will be upset is that particularly annoying subset of Yankees and Red Sox fan who think that it’s their birthright to possess every good player within, oh, a decade of free agency and covets said players accordingly.
Man I hate those dudes.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.
Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.
On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.
For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”
Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.
MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”
Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.
The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.